The class of the NHL went into San Jose and scared the electricity out of the building early in the day. Fortunately, the folks at the HP Pavilion were able to get power restored in time for us to actually have a game. All things considered, the ice was in pretty good shape, which really helped when the Wings decided to drop five on their Western Conference rivals. Don't believe a word of the talk about "a measure of revenge" though. This game was just another regular season roll over a team that's a shell of itself right now.
I was a bit surprised to see the final shot count was 29-28 for the Wings, as it seemed there were a lot more scoring chances for either side, but watching the thing, I don't remember very many bad shot choices either, which can happen in games where shot totals for each team approach 40. The Wings' PP continues to heat up, scoring on one opportunity officially, but really creating two of Detroit's goals, as one was scored seconds after the expiration of a penalty. The PK had an off night, stopping only one of San Jose's two chances, but the fact that Detroit only took two penalties was a testament to both their team discipline and the referees' willingness to avoid falling for some pretty egregious acting jobs by a team building a reputation for taking falls, acting hurt, and getting indignant.
Statistically, Jimmy Howard did not have a good night, stopping 25 of 28 shots for an .893 save percentage, but he had a decent game. The Sharks put pressure on him pretty well. Overall, I counted two big saves on his part and I'm not faulting him for any of San Jose's three goals. This falls right in line with the +2 rating on the night, which has generally come to mean that he had an ok night. Howard didn't win this one for us, but he didn't have to; all he had to do was keep from losing it for the Wings and he did exactly that.
Scoring and plus/minus adjustments after the jumpThe Goals
1st Period 4:50 - Detroit Goal (PP): Danny Cleary (tip in) from Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula
Detroit's on the power play because of a high-stick on Mayers. In fairness, he high-sticked Hudler, which is pretty easy to do. After controlling the faceoff to start the power play, the three Detroit forwards move the puck from one faceoff circle around behind the net to the other. Cleary feeds to Fillpula, who puts a pass cross-ice to Zetterberg. While both defenders are trying to adjust to this hole in their coverage they did not want to allow, Z throws a puck onto Cleary's stick at the front of the net where it deflects off and in. There is no scoring adjustment on this play. Kronwall's pass and presence helped on the man advantage, but I don't think he did enough to help really create this play.
1st Period 8:01 - Detroit Goal: Pavel Datsyuk (wrist shot) from Brian Rafalski and Henrik Zetterberg
Always nice when both of the official assists on a play come from touches in your own defensive zone, aren't they? Anyway, later in the period the Sharks are putting on some heavy forechecking pressure in the Wings zone, causing some major trouble in getting a clear. Finally, Zetterberg grabs the puck and whips it around behind his own net to Rafalski, who immediately finds Pavel Datsyuk streaking up the middle for a two-line pass. Pavel splits the San Jose defense and carries in against Niittymaki. After a quick stick-handle to avoid a poke check, Datsyuk deposits it into the open net behind the sprawled out goaltender for the 2-0 lead. Pavel splitting the defense here is one of the prettiest plays of the season for the Wings. Datsyuk will receive an extra plus for this play. Rafalski also gets a half-plus here. His outlet pass is still somehow very underrated. It's definitely not easy to throw a pass 60 feet up ice directly on the tape of a streaking forward, but his accuracy and vision on this play help Datsyuk walk his way through two defenders.
1st Period 9:35 - San Jose Goal (PP): Dany Heatley (wrist shot) from Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski
18 seconds after the Datsyuk goal, Holmstrom gets sent to the box for interference in the neutral zone. This is the first of two dumb penalties by Mr. Holmstrom that will earn him Babcock's scorn and minuses from me. After killing off the first minute of PP time, the Wings lose a D-zone faceoff. The Sharks cycle the puck around to Thornton low next to the net. He carries out to the side boards to create some room after getting his first centering attempt blocked by Kronwall. As Heatley stands in front and Marleau drives the net, Thornton throws a puck out front that deflects off Heatley and into the net. No scoring adjustment on this play other than Holmstrom's minus for taking this penalty.
2nd Period 2:58 - Detroit Goal: Henrik Zetterberg (
bat in slap shot) from Brian Rafalski and Pavel Datsyuk
For all intents and purposes, this is another power play goal that gets credited as an even-strength one on the official scoresheet because the penalty had just ended. The skater had yet to rejoin the play however, so I'm treating it like a PPG. The penalty drawn to put Detroit on this power play is more of a case of lazy stick work by Logan Couture than of the hard, foot-moving grinding that would earn Zetterberg a plus for drawing it. Fortunately, he earns something even better as he scores here. The Wings carry in with 35 seconds left in the man advantage and use that time to cycle the puck all over the zone very well and create some high-quality scoring chances. Just after the penalty expires, with the Sharks' PK unit still running around a bit, Datsyuk sets up with the puck in his office at the side boards where he finds Rafalski sneaking in on the back door and wires a cross-ice pass to him. Rafalski immediately pushes the puck to the center of the ice, but gets a bit of air on the pass in the process. This turns out to be no problem for Zetterberg, as he bats the puck out of mid air and past Niittymaki. This is another great tic-tac-toe passing play by the Wings power play unit, and threading the pass across the ice to Rafalski is huge here. Datsyuk will earn a half-plus for his vision and pass, but sadly that will be the only plus awarded on the play, as it was essentially a power play goal that wasn't. Datsyuk gets the half-plus, but Lidstrom, Rafalski, Zetterberg, and Holmstrom will not get pluses on the play.
2nd Period 4:52- San Jose Goal: Benn Ferriero (backhand) from Jamie McGinn and Derek Joslin
Just over two minutes later, the Sharks get this one back as Benn Ferriero follows up a dump-in with good intensity and manages to force Kronwall to throw the puck up the boards a tad quicker than he wanted to. Derek Joslin picks off the clearing attempt and throws a shot that deflects off McGinn and Jimmy Howard. Ferriero picks up the rebound from in front and slams it home on the backhand as he's knocked over. This is just a very good forecheck for the kid and he's rewarded with a goal. I am going to give Kronwall a half-minus for failing to stop Ferriero the entire time though as he had two chances to keep this play from happening and can't.
Penalty Adjustment: 8-50into the 2nd period, Holmstrom takes his second penalty of the night with a cycle-killing holding penalty in the Sharks defensive zone. He will get a minus for this.
2nd Period 19:49- Detroit Goal: Patrick Eaves (tip in) from Danny Cleary and Niklas Kronwall
Late in the 2nd period, the Wings put on very good sustained pressure from the first line of Datsyuk, Zetterberg, and Holmstrom. San Jose manages to clear, but they bring it right back in and change lines. With Zetterberg still on and forcing on the forecheck hard, Helm beats a Sharks defender in a race for the puck and takes control. He gets it to Eaves, who passes off to Kronwall. Kronner carries low on the side boards, but gets the puck knocked off his stick. He recovers and feeds it back high to Dan Cleary, who had just come on. Cleary throws a wrister at the net which is deflected off Eaves' stick and in. Helm will pick up an assist on this play for getting to the loose puck to make this play happen. Zetterberg will also get a half-plus as his forechecking helps force the turnover that Helm grabs before he goes off to get Cleary, the primary assist man on the ice.
3rd Period 7:55 - Detroit Goal: Henrik Zetterberg (snap shot) from Pavel Datsyuk
Sustained forechecking pressure in the Sharks' zone leads to this goal. After a line change that has Zetterberg out against rookie defenseman Mike Moore, the Wings show why the matchup is so dangerous. Zetterberg pressures Moore into trying a pass to his teammate that slips by him and straight to Pavel Datsyuk standing out front. Datsyuk immediately takes the puck tot he front of the net, taking three Sharks defenders with him as well as Niittymaki before making a no-look backhanded pass to Zetterberg for the easy putaway. Both Zetterberg and Datsyuk pick up half-pluses here for their work in making this goal happen.
Penalty adjustment: As the Wings wind down the clock to the victory, Niklas Kronwall steps up on Scott Nichol in his own zone with a big hit. Nichol loses his composure and chases him down the ice to try to instigate a fight. Kronwall doesn't take the bait or respond when Nichol slashes or drops the gloves on him, earning the Sharks' forward a double-minor for losing his cool. I think keeping his cool should earn Kronwall a plus here.
3rd Period 17:28 - San Jose Goal: Ryan Clowe (wrist shot) from Justin Braun and Torrey Mitchell
After wasting the four-minute power play that Scott Nichol gave them, the Wings let the Sharks make it interesting again by giving up a goal that puts the Sharks down by just two with about 2 and a half minutes to go. A Lidstrom pass to Filppula handcuffs the Finn just enough to keep him from splitting two defenders coming out of his own zone. Instead, the puck ends up on the side boards by the Wings' bench while five players fight for the puck. The Sharks win the board battle as Mitchell gets it to Braun at the point. Braun takes a couple steps in and unleashes a low slap shot that Howard stops, but in his attempt to kick the puck wide, accidentally kicks it a bit too high where Ryan Clowe, who has out-raced Franzen to the spot on the ice. Clowe picks up the puck and puts it behind Howard. Watching the replay, there aren't any horribly egregious screw ups that lead to this goal, but rather one line getting outworked by a much more desperate line. Everybody here will keep their minus, but I'm not awarding any extras.
-0.5 to Brad Stuart: Stu made a few boneheaded plays and had three defensive zone turnovers on the night. He also made some good plays to help make up for those, but not enough.
+0.5 to Jonathan Ericsson: Big Rig had one turnover, but he was once again dependable and defensively solid the entire game.
+1 to Nicklas Lidstrom: Would you believe me if I told you Lidstrom was tied for worst Corsi rating on the night among Wings (with Bertuzzi) for a -10 rating? Yeah, well this is part of the reason I have a bit of a problem with individual Corsi ratings because watching him all game long, he was a big part of what kept the Wings from losing this game.
Honorable Mentions: I thought Hudler was decent, but unremarkable again. He ended the night a minus-1 on the Ferriero goal that wasn't really his fault, but didn't leave him particularly blameless either. He had one fantastic scoring chance that he put just wide. Also, Bertuzzi very nearly earned a minus for a couple of turnovers, but also had a couple of takeaways that the official scorer didn't give him credit for. All in all, his night was a wash.
Ducks on Friday. Be there and be classy.